What are the top intranet trends used by the world’s largest and most premier companies?
I had the pleasure of hearing about many of them by attending a recent Global Benchmarking Meeting sponsored by the Intranet Benchmarking Form (IBF).
The Forum is in the business of benchmarking big intranets, and because of that the group has intimate knowledge of what the current intranet trends are, where they are headed, and how these trends play out in the real world within large organizations.
And, since IBF Forum is not a consultancy and doesn’t allow any consultants or technical vendors into its fold, you know you’re getting the real, unbiased deal when it comes to information.
That is just one part of the benefits membership in this exclusive forum gives you access to.
“One of the key reasons companies participate in IBF is for the independent intranet evaluation and benchmarking,” said IBF Chairman and Founder Paul Miller.
As a result, they get a sense of what really matters in intranets across the globe. Here are the top 5 intranet trends this organization is tracking:
High Level Process And Workflow
Intranets are growing from simple communication tools to digital environments for action.
That means, instead of simply being an online vehicle for company news and official word on different parts of the business, the internal web is now a full-fledged workhorse.
Business critical functions are now happening mainly through the intranet, and if the current environment is any indication, this shift is only going to expand.
Miller indicated that the IBF is currently working on a financial valuation tool to offer to members.
This tool is able to provide a financial valuation, the elusive return-on-investment, for company intranets.
“A recent evaluation of a trivial meeting room booking capability on a member company’s Intranet (with 17,000 plus employees) were savings of over $10 million per annum,” noted Miller.
From the road warrior to the home worker to business partners, the reach of the intranet is getting more decentralized every day.
People need access wherever they may do their work, and increasingly that work is being done somewhere other than the corner office or vapid cubicle.
With the increasing personalization of intranets and the trend toward high level workflow, universal access to the web is no longer optional but a mission critical piece of the equation.
Many intranets are scoring poorly with respect to remote access when we do our independent evaluations,” explained Miller.
“Most intranet access is still from a desktop within an office, but members are now starting to see the ROI benefit of adding remote intranet services.”
In addition to the broader reach of the workforce, the need to hedge for both crisis and environmental factors is greater.
In this post 9/11 and Katrina world, anything is possible in terms of unexpected interruption to business operations, and continuity is a factor.
Remote access coupled with sound disaster recovery principles are a must in this day of the mission critical intranet.
Lovely User Experience And Full Accessibility
Users are no longer content to hunt and peck with their mouse amid poorly designed sites.
No one has the patience for bush league designs that are difficult to impossible to use.
With the increase of personalization and functionality within large intranets, there is a movement to user centric design and navigation. Customizable and ease are the name of the game.
Accommodating a wide range of disabilities is also now crucial to overall design.
As more business critical tasks move to the intranet you can no longer ignore a significant portion of the population. Accessibility best practices now heavily influence design.
Culture And Brand Experience
In many large organizations, the intranet is the glue that holds the organization together. It is the front line on which an organization must build its internal culture.
Employees look to the intranet for information on internal operations, organizational strategy and tone, as well as customer-facing products and messaging.
Collaboration And Community
Web 2.0 makes its way inside the firewall to become Enterprise 2.0. With user expectations set in the real world internet, users are no longer content to see anemic and outdated content authored by a few.
Employees want rich content and the ability to engage in peer to peer communication, connection, and collaboration.
Peer to peer content creation and maintenance is becoming a reality. Using blogs, wikis, and other collaboration/document management solutions, the subject matter experts are now able to amp up the information that is shared throughout the organization.
When I asked Mr. Miller what makes IBF different from other benchmarking organizations, he explained, “We specialize in intranets and online services behind the firewall only.”